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As soon as Sheryl Crow had completed her latest album, Detours, due to hit the stores and download sites February 5, 2008, we immediately began preparation for promoting the major release, spreading our time between press, TV, radio and live internet performances. In early December 2007 we set out for two weeks of all of the above, so thought I’d share a bit of our calendar with you.
Friday, November 30 -
I flew from my home in Atlanta, Georgia to New York City.
Saturday, December 1 - Tuesday, December 4, 12:00-9:00 p.m.
Full band rehearsals begin at S.I.R. Studios in Manhattan. Our main focus is to prepare Sheryl’s new song, “Shine Over Babylon” for a December 6 performance on the special CNN Heroes. We also practice our “acoustic” set for live radio and internet performances. The latter is a scaled down band of Sheryl, Tim Smith and me on guitars, and our drummer Jeremy Stacey.
Wednesday, December 4, 6:15 a.m.
Lobby call, arrrghh! Sheryl, Tim, Jeremy and I hop into a van bound for Philadelphia to perform for NPR’s Fresh Air and World Café. Both hosts will interview Sheryl and feature a handful of songs live. Quite a bumpy ride between NYC and Philly – , fix the roads!
Our augmented crew travels separately, arriving earlier to set up our gear. Acoustic guitars are sometimes mic’ed, but usually run direct along with bass and electric guitars. Jeremy uses a scaled down kit – a floor tom for a kick and brushes on a tambourine with a head for a makeshift snare. We all sing back-ups behind Sheryl.
2:30 p.m. –
We head back to NYC for an evening rehearsal at S.I.R. as final preparation for the CNN special. We work in two back-up singers, Stephanie Alexander and Lisa Fischer, who will be joining us for the show’s performance. This evening we’re using a rented backline since our gear had to be packed and trucked to the West coast for the TV show we will be taping in L.A. the following weekend.
After rehearsal, Sheryl takes the entire band and crew out for a celebratory dinner at a cool restaurant around the corner from S.I.R., something she does quite graciously and quite often, and it’s always a blast.
We’re back at the hotel by midnight. Remember, our day started at 6:15 a.m.
Wednesday, December 5, 3:00 p.m.
Rehearsal and camera blocking for CNN Heroes. The event is being held at the LeFrak Theater at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. We walk in the stage door to witness the controlled chaos inherent in making a two-hour live broadcast happen. Multi-million dollar audio and visual equipment trucks line the streets around the museum. There is a staff and crew of hundreds and a temporary production office taking up half of an entire floor.
Dressing rooms are cordoned off by hanging curtains. Workers are passing at a fast clip in all directions and celebrities are being ushered to their dressing rooms, the “green room” where they’re held for impending performances, or onstage to finally perform. These events are typically characterized by a lot of “hurry up and wait.” We spend much of the time hearing, “You’ll be on in five minutes,” only to have the crew come get us two hours later!
Once on stage, we run through “Shine Over Babylon” a few times while lighting and sound is adjusted. The show’s director sits out front taking notes for camera queues and the camera men are directed accordingly. Our monitor engineer runs between us all asking what we need in our wedges or in-ear monitors. We answer, “More drums.” “More of Tim’s guitar!” “More vocal!” It’s always, “More!” We must be deaf.
Thursday, December 6 2:30 p.m. –
Depart the hotel for CNN show.
3:00-6:00 p.m. –
Dress rehearsal– it goes well from our point of view
9:00 p.m. –
It’s time; the show is on the air! Live TV is always an adrenaline rush for everyone. 36 minutes into the broadcast, they call us to take the stage. The crew rolls out our backline on moving pallets. My amps and pedalboard are completely pre-wired and placed into position. The entire band has to be set and ready to go within a twominute “scene change” commercial break. We take our places. The director gives us the countdown, “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 – on air!” Now our hearts are pumping into our necks. CNN’s Anderson Cooper introduces us, “Please welcome Sheryl Crow.” The director points to Jeremy who yells the count and we launch into “Shine Over Babylon.”
To see the performance you can dial it up on YouTube – search for “Sheryl Crow CNN Shine Over Babylon.”
To be continued...
is co-founder of 65amps